How to enjoy Las Vegas on a budget
Las Vegas is awesome.
The glitz and glamour of billion dollar hotels, first class dining, superstar DJ’s and nightclubs that’ll set you back $500 for a seat at a table.
It’s not necessarily the first place that springs to mind when you are travelling on a budget. In fairness if you’re a hardcore couch-surfer, or a backpacker in the purest sense then Vegas is probably not for you. But there is another side to Vegas. Read on and I’ll tell you why I think Vegas may just be the best value destination in the world.
1. Free Entertainment.
Where else in the world is the No.1 attraction free?
The fountains at Bellagio are. A spectacular water and light show that takes place frequently throughout the day and into the night. Over 1200 jets blast water 400 feet into the air, superbly choreographed to a seemingly endless repertoire of musical greats.
And that’s not all there’s the volcano show at Mirage, a fire and water show set to rhythmic drumming. The Viva Vision Light Show at Fremont Street Experience, a 1,500 foot long 90 foot wide overhead canopy that plays high-resolution images along to music blasted out from a 550,000 watt PA system.
The Bellagio Conservatory, Streetmosphere in the Grand Canal Shoppes. The Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo, circus acts at Circus Circus, the Auto Collection at The Link (technically this attraction charges an admission fee, but you can usually download free passes from their website http://www.autocollection.com), the list goes on and on.
And then there’s the themed hotels.
You could spend a fun filled week in Vegas without having to pay for a single attraction.
2. Free Drinks.
The Casino owners don’t want you straying too far from the tables, and will furnish gamblers with free drinks to discourage them from getting up and wandering off.
Obviously I’m not suggesting you drop £1000 at the roulette wheel in order to score a free Bacardi and Coke. By following these simple rules you can get free drinks without breaking the bank.
- Slots not tables.
Your cash can disappear fast at the tables, however as long as you have credit on a slot machine, you are likely to be offered free drinks. You don’t even need to be pushing the button!
- Position yourself en route to the waitress station.
It doesn’t take much work to track down where the waitresses appear from brandishing trays of lovely booze. Position yourself along the well trodden route.
- Go uptown.
The best hotels tend to offer a better selection of drinks.
- Shop around.
We’ve been to Vegas half a dozen times, and the best place to score free drinks has been different on each visit. If you aren’t getting the goods be prepared to move on.
OK, so this is somewhat counter intuitive, but if you want more than 1 free drink in any establishment make sure you tip the waitress!
3. Hotel Discounts.
If you keep an eye on the promotions you can get a 4 Star hotel for £20 per night. And this is for a room on the Strip! Don’t forget this is an American 4 Star hotel. I’ve stayed in Motels in the States that are better than 4 & 5 star hotels in other countries.
Just a word of warning unfortunately the major chains aren’t the bargain they used to be has both MGM group and Caesar’s Entertainment both now charge an exorbitant “resort fee” on top of the room rate, but there are still some independent hotels that don’t.
4. Cheap food.
With so many Michelin starred dining options and Celebrity Chef hangouts, you could be forgiven for thinking that eating in Vegas is going to be a budget busting experience.
Sure you can easily drop $500 on a meal, or buy a burger with gold flakes in it, if that’s your cup of Dom Perignon, but there are also plenty of bargains to be had.
He’s a few tips for cheap eats.
- Do Brunch.
There are loads of cheap buffets in Vegas, and brunch is the time to hit them. Get yourself a hearty meal at breakfast rates, and it’ll see you through to dinner.
- Eat at the chains.
There are loads of good chains represented in Vegas, many offering excellent food at rock bottom prices. The Burritos at Chipotle Mexican Grill are huge and delicious, and just $7. Panda express is another super cheap good food alternative, and that’s before we hit Downtown, with it’s 99 cent hot dogs and deep-fried Twinkies.
- Share a meal.
The portions in Vegas are massive. More often than not one main meal is enough for 2 people to share.
5. Cheap clothing.
Vegas has all the big brands, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Prada, you name it, they’ll have at least one store here. Spending your hard-earned cash has never been so easy, but if you want a bit more bang for your buck, there are very good designer outlet villages at either end of the strip offering discounts of 40-60% against retail prices. But if you’re looking for the real bargains Ross Dress for Less sell high street brands at rock bottom prices. How cheap, well I’m currently in Thailand, and holding off buying any replacement clothes until we hit Vegas later in the year!
6. Cheap Transport
Lets start with Free Transport!
There are 3 monorails in Las Vegas. The main one that runs the length of the strip from MGM Grand to SLS (formally Sahara) charges $per ride, but the 2 on the other side of the strip, Mandalay Bay to Excalibur, and Monte Carlo to Bellagio are both free.
In addition to this a frequent bus service operates 24 hours per day, with fares from $2 for journeys between the Strip and Downtown.
Vegas really is an amazing destination. The place has an energy that I haven’t found anywhere else. It really is more than a sum of it’s parts. Words and photographs don’t do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself. And you can. For a lot less than you may have thought.
Please tell us if you agree, or if you have somewhere in mind that offers such an abundance for less cash. We’d love to hear from you.